Asia to fuel global growth this year, say experts | Inquirer Business

Asia to fuel global growth this year, say experts

/ 12:05 AM January 19, 2016

HONG KONG—The economic outlook around Asia is pinched with uncertainty, but this should not prevent the region from continuing to expand this year.

Such was the sentiment at the opening Monday of the Asian Financial Forum 2016 (AFF) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Vincent Lo, chair of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, pointed out that Asia and China would continue to fuel global growth this year, although at a slower pace. Regional growth in Asia is projected at a little more than 3 percent, still better than the expected US economic growth of 2.7 percent for 2016.


Much of the optimism at the annual financial gathering revolved around China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a key strategy launched by the Chinese government to promote cooperative development in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.


The initiative seeks to strengthen policy coordination, enhance the orderly flow of economic resources, promote market integration and create an “open, inclusive and mutually beneficial economic cooperation framework in the region.”

A major component of this program is the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), of which the Philippines is a member. The financial institution, which started operating this month, will work like the Japan-led Asian Development Bank and the US-led World Bank by providing concessional loans for infrastructure projects.

“China’s initiatives provide opportunities for all of us,” Leung emphasized, adding that central to China’s plan for the Belt and Road Initiative was the massive investments needed for the expansion of transport and trade facilities not only in the region but also in Europe and Africa.

Liu Zhenmin, Chinese vice minister of foreign affairs, also allayed fears among global investors about China’s current economic slowdown. “We need to have confidence in China’s economy. We have adequate fiscal tools to handle the situation,” he said.

Raymond Yip, deputy executive director of the HKTDC, said the 2016 AFF would focus on topics ranging from the opportunities and challenges facing the Chinese mainland to the development prospects of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries, as well as the abundant opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative to Hong Kong and other countries and regions along the Belt and Road routes.

A highlight of this year’s edition of the financial forum is the presence of Ben S. Bernanke, former chair of the US Federal Reserve Board (2006-2014) as its keynote speaker to share his insights on the outlook for the world economy. His dialogue with participants to the forum, however, was off limits to the media. Raul O. Marcelo

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TAGS: Asia, Business, global growth

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